Author: Marissa Meyer
Published: November 8th 2016 by Feiwel & Friends
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.
Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
I pictured to myself the Queen of Hearts as a sort of embodiment of ungovernable passion- a blind and aimless Fury.
(I know, I’m super late on the hype train. But better late than never…right? Actually the hype died down so much there probably isn’t even a hype train anymore. I’m just standing at the abandoned train station, by myself, yelling about how good this book is.)
Marissa Meyer: the queen of retellings! She’s done it again! I thought this wouldn’t even come close to the complexity and dare I say, heart, of her other series, the Lunar Chronicles, but it did! And I was actually pretty surprised to find a ton of negative/disappointed reviews because, to me, this book was so much fun.
So, a little background: Our main character, Lady Catherine Pinkerton (what a name), dreams of opening a bakery with her best friend. But she’s finding it pretty difficult, because she’s a Lady, and what Lady in their right mind would want to run a business? Even though she’s up to the challenge and ready to fight those who oppose her, things get worse after she finds out the King is looking for a wife and has his sights set on her. And then she meets the mysterious Jest (whom I love) and she is led away from her comfortable life and deeper into the eccentric and dangerous world of Wonderland.
Marissa Meyer captured the essence of Wonderland perfectly, from the characters’ clothing and the way they spoke to the iconic Cheshire Cat. Some of the scenes (like Jest’s first performance and the Mad Hatter’s tea party) were so magical and detailed so wonderfully that I was entranced. I listened to the audiobook, and sometimes I would just have to stop whatever I was doing just so I could sit down and devote all my attention to it.
Even though I knew how this was going to end, it never went down the path I expected it to. Meyer kept me guessing in a world that’s been re-imagined countless times, and for that I am thoroughly impressed. She made Wonderland her own, and, to put it bluntly, it was amazing. I enjoyed it immensely.
Also, can we talk about Jest and Cath’s romance for a second? Jest was my favorite character (with Hatta being a close second) and even though I found Cath’s character to be lacking in any strong personality besides stubbornness, I really loved their chemistry. It wasn’t as insta-lovey as I thought (even though it was, a little bit) and there was just enough build-up and suspense that I actually really cared if they got together or not. And that reveal near the end!! It got me.
Also also, this is one of those books that you feel like you’ve only scratched the surface of when it’s done, where there are hints buried between bits of dialogue and descriptions. It made me want to look up theories online, which I haven’t wanted to do since the finale of Gravity Falls.
But Jamie, if you loved it so much, why didn’t you give it 5 stars?
Great question. Honestly, it was mostly because of the ending. I know I should have seen it coming, I mean, this is a villain origin story, Cath had to turn bad at some point, but it just wasn’t convincing enough for me. The ending felt less like putting the pieces of a puzzle together and more like forcing two puzzle pieces that don’t match up together because you just want the puzzle to be over already. Does that make any sense? Probably not. Let me try again. The ending did what it needed to do, but the events that led up to Cath becoming the Queen of Hearts felt forced and unnatural. It consisted of a whole lot of twists and turns that I couldn’t keep up with and when the book was over all I could think was: what just happened? Also, this book got really dark, really quickly, and the fun, Wonderland-esque details and dialogue that made me love this story so much were suddenly gone.
That’s my review! Did you guys read this book? Do you agree/disagree with any of my opinions? Let me know!